Remembering Boston's Main Line.

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Remembering Boston's Main Line.

Postby 3rdrail » Thu Jan 01, 2009 3:38 pm

I thought that this would be an interesting thread as there is a lot here. Please submit your rememberances, factoids, photos, experiences, etc. For purposes of brevity, let's keep the subject matter to the line's Forest Hills to Sullivan Square/Everett 1909/1919 to 1975 routing, including both the Washington Street and Charlestown Elevateds as well as the Washington Street Tunnel and service inside the Tremont Street Subway (1901-1908). Thanks ! :-D

Anybody know where this is ? (Correct answer gets you a "Main Line Connoisseur" Rating !)
http://i203.photobucket.com/albums/aa26 ... inLine.jpg
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Re: Remembering Boston's Main Line.

Postby MBTA3247 » Thu Jan 01, 2009 5:47 pm

My guess is that's the end of the yard at Forest Hills, adjacent to the intersection of Hyde Park Ave and Walk Hill St.
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Re: Remembering Boston's Main Line.

Postby 3rdrail » Thu Jan 01, 2009 6:15 pm

Correctamundo 3247 ! You get the MLC ! That area is now just a pasture east of the NEC just before Forest Hills inbound. The storage yards are now on the opposite side of the NEC tracks. Shot from the Tollgate Bridge in the 70's. This was the southernmost point for the Main (or Orange) Line for all time, to date.
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Re: Remembering Boston's Main Line.

Postby Gerry6309 » Thu Jan 01, 2009 6:57 pm

The photo Paul posted is also one of only two locations where the Main Line tracks were on the surface for any distance. They became elevated about halfway down the carhouse between this location and Forest Hills Station. (Subway portals don't count) Can anyone name the other location? (other than Paul :) )
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The next stop is Washington. Change for Forest Hills Trains on the Winter St. Platform, and Everett Trains on the Summer St. Platform. This is an Ashmont train, change for Braintree at Columbia.
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Re: Remembering Boston's Main Line.

Postby Dave D » Thu Jan 01, 2009 7:52 pm

The only other location that the Orange line was on the ground was at Everett. I can still remember going south bound to Sullivan and see them bringing the old trolly cars out on that little strip of land under the orange line tracks and burn then to get rid of everything but the metal. I definitely don't miss standing in Everett Station waiting for the Woodlawn bus and smelling the sulfur from Monsanto.


Dave D. :-D
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Re: Remembering Boston's Main Line.

Postby Gerry6309 » Thu Jan 01, 2009 8:08 pm

Dave D wrote:The only other location that the Orange line was on the ground was at Everett. I can still remember going south bound to Sullivan and see them bringing the old trolly cars out on that little strip of land under the orange line tracks and burn then to get rid of everything but the metal. I definitely don't miss standing in Everett Station waiting for the Woodlawn bus and smelling the sulfur from Monsanto.


Dave D. :-D

Very good, sir!
Do you know what made that strip of land even more unusual? Interestingly, the last roadway the el passed over before descending to the surface, was Chemical Lane, the access to the Everett Shops and Monsanto. The answer to the question can be found on Broadway near its intersection with Chemical Lane.
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The next stop is Washington. Change for Forest Hills Trains on the Winter St. Platform, and Everett Trains on the Summer St. Platform. This is an Ashmont train, change for Braintree at Columbia.
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Re: Remembering Boston's Main Line.

Postby 3rdrail » Thu Jan 01, 2009 8:52 pm

Ok, here's some more. Anybody that knows these off the top of their head has my deepest admiration. Aside from the Forest Hills Yard/Barn south of Forest Hills Station, did any other Elevated Division storage facility exist in the vicinity of Forest Hills ? If so, what was it's name ? Also, was there ever a surface car physical connection with the El at Forest Hills ?

edited - 1/2/09 1:00AM
Ok, I admit it. That was a tough one. The answer is yes. From 1912 to 1917, the Shea Yard was used to store Elevated cars in what's now the Arborway yard. At the time, the location was known as the Forest Hills Carhouse. The Shea Yard got it's name from the previous owner of the property whom the West End Street Railway had purchased the property from in 1895.The Shea Yard was a long, five parallel-track yard located approximately where those idle PCC's were stored for many years. A few feet inbound out of Forest Hills, there was a ramp leading to an embankment which brought the El cars down into the Forest Hills Carhouse's Shea Yard. The Shea Yard's use for elevated cars was short lived however due to the built in hazards of having entrance and exit from the ramp leading directly into the active Main Line tracks, as well as the fear of a runaway train on the ramp while waiting for clearance to enter the Main Line. (There may have been an unrecorded incident.) In 1917, the Shea Yard no longer held elevated cars, and a surface lines connector was cut in at the base of the ramp so that trolleys could use the Shea Yard instead. (So, technically, from 1917 to 1922, there was a physical connection between the two lines at Forest Hills. It is interesting to wonder if perhaps during this time (from 1919-1922) if trolleys may have been towed on the Elevated as a direct route to the Everett Shops ?) In 1922, the Shea Ramp was removed. In 1926, the yard became the Arborway. As an artifact, you could still see the girdered stub of the beginning of what was the Shea Ramp on the Elevated right up to the Elevated's end (see picture). It is the 45 degree stub on the right (inbound) side directly ahead in the photo.
http://naphotos.nerail.org/showpic/?200 ... y&BOOL=ANY
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Re: Remembering Boston's Main Line.

Postby Gerry6309 » Fri Jan 02, 2009 8:50 pm

I let my question go a little further than Paul's but nobody has answered that one either. The infamous Everett Scrapyard is actually in Boston! The scrapyard, elevated right of way and Alford St. are on a finger of Boston's Charlestown District which extends north of the Mystic River at that point. Just south of Chemical Lane there is a sign marking the boundary. The power plant to the east is in Everett. Broadway becomes Alford St. at the sign to further confuse matters!

Other useless trivia from the Charlestown El.

  • The sharpest curve on the line was just RR north of Sullivan Station, on the outbound track. The El doubled back on itself here.
  • The Everett Extension was connected to the Main Line by extending two yard tracks across the river.
  • The yards east and west of Sullivan Carhouse had different names. The west yard was Dorrance Street Yard, while the east yard through which the Main Line tracks passed was the Beacham Street Yard. Access to Dorrance Street Yard was via a switchback opposite the inbound Sullivan platform and a scissors crossover just to the west (RR north) of there.
  • Sullivan Square Carhouse was a two story affair. The lower level was the base for the El's work car fleet and was known as Charlestown Neck Carhouse.
  • The highest point above the street on the Elevated was just east (RR South) of Sullivan Sq. where the El crossed over the Grand Junction Branch of the Boston and Albany RR. The actual crossing was made on a very short shallow span which maximized the clearance below. It should be noted that the El passed even higher above the B&A and Massachusetts Turnpike near Castle Square but the Street was at a mid level.

Since I started off at the Everett Scrapyard, let's end there, What was the last item to be cut up at the Everett Scrapyard?
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The next stop is Washington. Change for Forest Hills Trains on the Winter St. Platform, and Everett Trains on the Summer St. Platform. This is an Ashmont train, change for Braintree at Columbia.
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Re: Remembering Boston's Main Line.

Postby 3rdrail » Fri Jan 02, 2009 9:39 pm

Is that like a "Who's buried in Grants Tomb ?", Gerry, with the answer being The Everett Scrapyard ? :-D
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Re: Remembering Boston's Main Line.

Postby Gerry6309 » Fri Jan 02, 2009 10:03 pm

3rdrail wrote:Is that like a "Who's buried in Grants Tomb ?", Gerry, with the answer being The Everett Scrapyard ? :-D


Come on, Paul! I know you know the answer. It was a BIG job, the company's motto was "Coast to Coast"! :-D
Last edited by Gerry6309 on Fri Jan 02, 2009 10:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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The next stop is Washington. Change for Forest Hills Trains on the Winter St. Platform, and Everett Trains on the Summer St. Platform. This is an Ashmont train, change for Braintree at Columbia.
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Re: Remembering Boston's Main Line.

Postby Tracer » Fri Jan 02, 2009 10:05 pm

Gerry6309 wrote:I let my question go a little further than Paul's but nobody has answered that one either. The infamous Everett Scrapyard is actually in Boston! The scrapyard, elevated right of way and Alford St. are on a finger of Boston's Charlestown District which extends north of the Mystic River at that point. Just south of Chemical Lane there is a sign marking the boundary. The power plant to the east is in Everett. Broadway becomes Alford St. at the sign to further confuse matters!


I was told by a friend that during construction of that new building going up located on the "finger" they found all the old elevated orange line footings. Some were as big as 10x10x10 below grade.
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Re: Remembering Boston's Main Line.

Postby jonnhrr » Sat Jan 03, 2009 5:28 pm

Paul your original picture of the end of Forest Hills yard brings back memories. I was fascinated by those old Main Line el cars and I remember there was a 4 car set of 0900's that were more or less permanently parked in the back of the yard, with car number 1000 at the end of the train, the last of that series. Sometimes on my travels between school in West Roxbury and home in Dorchester I would stop off to hang around the yard and watch trains pull in and out, etc. and listen to the old air compressor cycling on that train.

Then one morning I was waiting at Winter St., must have been around 1962-1964 and a train of those 0900 cars pulls into the station. I expected it to be work equipment and just continue through but it stopped and took on passengers! Unfortunately I did not get the car numbers but I suspect by that time there were only the 6 of the older cars left so it was highly likely that it was that train that usually sat at Forest Hills. That was a great trip running down to Forest Hills, made even better by the fact we ran express from Dudley to Forest Hills. I wonder if that was the last revenue run of those old cars, and that perhaps they had a shortage of 01100's that morning and had resorted to dragging the 0900's out?

I never knew that there had been another yard at Forest Hills. That jog in the el structure always bothered me and I could never figure out what it was there for, now it is explained.

Here is a bit of trivia about the El operation I was told by a motorman back then. The marker lights on the end of the train could be changed to show yellow, green, or white. Supposedly northbound, a Red light on the motorman's cab side meant Everett, Green meant Sullivan Square, and Yellow meant Atlantic Ave (which of course by then was no longer used). Southbound, a green light meant a train that was going out of service, I think. White was used for special trains, such as work trains for instance. I don't recall how long those indications were still used, I expect it had to do with the manual interlocking towers that were once used at various locations, to indicate to the towermen the train's destination, and fell out of use once the control of switching was centralized, whenever that was.

Speaking of sharp curves, the S curve going inbound at Dudley was pretty sharp, there was a timer approaching it so trains had to reduce speed. If the curve at Sullivan Square was sharper it must have been a doozy. I didn't get up that way much, I think I only ever rode to Everett once.

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Re: Remembering Boston's Main Line.

Postby Arborway » Sat Jan 03, 2009 7:05 pm

I have a love / hate relationship with threads like this. Love the information, but hate the fact I missed out on so much history.
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Re: Remembering Boston's Main Line.

Postby 3rdrail » Sat Jan 03, 2009 7:18 pm

Hi John !
I'm sitting here green with envy !
I can recall sometime around that same time (1962-64), I was around 11 years old and en route in town with my Mom. We were sitting in an 01100 at Forest Hills waiting for the bell to ring. (Do you remember that ? It sounded more like a ratchet.) Well, what pulls into Forest Hills outbound but a train of Wasons ! Well, although sympathetic, Mom at the time didn't understand that this moment represented to me what to a wine connoisseur would have been to stumble onto J.Paul Getty's hidden reserve at a yard sale. Well, to give her credit, she listened to my imploring to jump off the Pullman and wait for the Wason, but about ten seconds later we were in motion. It wasn't meant to be, I guess. I still haven't gotten over that one, and then in spite of being a BSRA member in the 70's, missed my opportunity for a Wason fan trip there also ! So, consider yourself fortunate indeed ! :-D

Interesting facts about the marker lights. (I always thought that they had just run out of the red colored lenses ! :( )
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Re: Remembering Boston's Main Line.

Postby Gerry6309 » Sat Jan 03, 2009 7:42 pm

Gerry6309 wrote:Since I started off at the Everett Scrapyard, let's end there, What was the last item to be cut up at the Everett Scrapyard?

I am shocked that nobody got this!

Cleveland Wrecking, the Coast to Coast Demolition Contractor, used the Everett Scrapyard to break up and sort the material from the Charlestown Elevated in 1975, after they finished they cleaned up the site, but technically did not scrap it. They moved the spans from their perch over the street intact, and did the dirty work at the scrapyard. An unusual aspect of the project was that the wood (mostly creosoted ties) from the El was salvaged, not burned.
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The next stop is Washington. Change for Forest Hills Trains on the Winter St. Platform, and Everett Trains on the Summer St. Platform. This is an Ashmont train, change for Braintree at Columbia.
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